The news that DEFRA is to issue a contract for research into compliance with lead shot regulations, which could lead to a ban on all lead shot, should make everyone who uses a shotgun sit up and think. The research brief includes instructions: “to recommend measures to improve compliance if current practice is shown to be insufficient to meet the aims and objectives of the original regulations”, and says that “In the light of this research, Ministers will decide whether further measures to test compliance are required, and if further education or other measures are needed to improve compliance with the regulations”.
The implication is clear: if shooting cannot be shown to be complying with the current regulation we are going to be faced with further restrictions and the real possiblity of a complete ban on lead shot. Anti-shooting groups, some politicians and-áthe RSPB-áwill push for stricter regulations and possibly a lead ban if the research shows that the current regulations can’t be enforced.
Worryingly the only previous study, carried out by the RSPB, found 27 out of 40 shot mallards purchased from game dealers contained lead shot. Everyone shooting wildfowl has a responsibility to the shooting community as a whole to adhere to the current regulations, because research which replicated that level of infringement would be bound to bring further restrictions.
Wildfowling clubs have strict rules and few if any of the wildfowl they shoot get to the game dealer so the focus of this research will be on duck shot inland and over flightponds.-á Inland shooters generally have less scrutiny, but it is the duck they shoot which will end up-áwith gamedealers and be part of the compliance research. It is not enough to carry a couple of non-toxic cartridges in your pocket next season – every duck shot must be lead free.